February 22, 2006

The deal would put six of the largest ports in the hands of Dubai Ports World of the United Arab Emirates

Bush threatens veto in ports row
US President George W Bush says he will veto any law blocking a deal giving an Arab company control of six US ports.

He (Bush) called on opponents to explain why they opposed a Middle Eastern firm taking over when they did not oppose a British company being in control.

Republican Congressman Pete King, chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, said: "I will fight harder than ever for this legislation, and if it is vetoed I will fight as hard as I can to override it."
...Thank goodness!

Critics fear an increased risk of terrorist attacks, pointing out that the UAE was the home of two of the hijackers involved in the 11 September 2001 attacks.

"We all deal with the UAE on a regular basis. It's a country that's been involved in the global war on terror."

February 21, 2006

So which place is better for women who want to make it to the top?

Forget all the talk of equal opportunity. European women can have a job—but not a career.

"Women, it seems, can have a job—but not a high-powered career.

Why is this? Simply put, Europe is killing its women with kindness—enshrined, ironically, in cushy welfare policies that were created to help them."

"We have got to get more women into the labor market," says Vladi mir Spidla, the EU commissioner of Employment and Social Affairs. Declining birthrates and aging populations threaten the financial stability of almost all European nations, he explains. With a massive skills gap and pension crisis looming, the Continent must bring in more high-level workers. Immigration—the main solution thus far—presents obvious cultural challenges. Taking better advantage of existing female populations is an obvious answer.

Denying the Holocaust happened can get you jail time...

British historian David Irving has been found guilty in Vienna of denying the Holocaust of European Jewry and sentenced to three years in prison.

Czech Republic

February 20, 2006

Friend doing Peace Corps in Romania - Her 5th update

Hello all,

Hope you are all doing well and making it through the winter, wherever you are. Here the weather is finally warming up to the 50s, but in recent weeks it was so cold that the Black Sea froze over, which apparently hasn't happened in 30 years People were driving from Bucharest just to take pictures and prove they were there "when it happened."

We've been back to school now for about 6 weeks and the kids finally seem to be getting back to work mode. The first semester finished up in January, and I was pleased to see that most of my kids made it through the exams, even though taking exams during the year is quite a new thing for them. The 9th graders, to whom I'm teaching American history, were tasked with writing a story about a fictional character in early America. They had never had a "creative" exam, but for the most part I was happy to see they got the idea. The Romanian teaching method in English is still putting most emphasis on grammar and not content, so it's my job to give them skills in this area. We also had an essay-writing contest sponsored by Peace Corps Romania, and one of my students was very happy to learn she'd won third prize at the national level.

Between the semesters we had a one week break, but it was so cold I didn't really venture out (although the situation inside my apartment wasn't much better). Instead I worked at warming up the kitchen by making new dishes with the vegetables available at the market place right now: carrots, turnips, potatoes, and onions. Of course Romanians are quite good at making things with these ingredients and my host mom has been helping me out. She gave me two whole pickled cabbages to take home and make soup with (they have a keg with about 100 in it), and that turned out reasonably well. My little gas stove seems to be working better but I still fear it could blow up when I light it.

Outside of work, I've been spending time with my host family, which usually just involves watching Romanian TV (lots of traditional singing), eating more than one should, and discussing various conspiracy theories involving the Americans and Russians. Romanians are well- known for their love of conspiracies, and to be a good guest you should have a knowledge of many different theories. I've also been spending time with my site-mate, Kelly, from Chicago, who will be leaving at the end of the school year. We have been cooking American food together, and next week we are planning a taco party for our fellow English teachers.

The next month will be bus-, and hopefully I'll be able to get out more as it warms up. At school we'll be doing a 7 week writing workshop, learning that we can write and don't need to plagiarize. We'll also be practicing for our school play, which will premiere in late April. I'll also be away from my site to Bucharest for my host granddaughter's baptism and to the mountain resort of Sinaia for a safety and security conference. I like my town but sometimes I'm glad to see other places as well.

I'm sure some of you have heard that the bird flu is now widespread (among poultry) in Romania, and you may have even read the BBC article saying Romania's sanitary conditions make it likely to soon have a human case. This may be true but there is no reason for worry right now. The bird flu is in my area (some neighboring villages are in quarantine), but Romanians don't live in close quarters with their birds and never play with them. Since most people here watch TV obsessively, they are well aware of the dangers and probably won't try to hide sick birds. So for the moment, don't worry too much about this.

That's it for now,

La Revedere!


February 7, 2006

Japan's Princess Kiko expecting a baby

Possibility of male heir comes as country debates royal succession law

All in the name of having a boy.........

'Conservatives have promoted the idea of reviving princely houses abolished after World War Two or even resuming the custom of royal concubines in an attempt to widen the potential pool of male heirs.

“Very frankly, before there was a system in which the emperor could have several wives,” Yoichi Masuzoe, a lawmaker with Koizumi’s ruling party, said before the news reports.

“This was the safety valve to keep the masculine line, but today it is impossible,” added Masuzoe, who is in favor of changing the succession law.'

February 5, 2006

Japan's 'nerd culture' almost mainstream

Subculture of comic books, life-sized dolls takes over Tokyo neighborhood

This is sort of scary. Does this help explain why women are getting married later if at all in Japan?

February 3, 2006

The French are getting taller and fatter

Study aims to help designers understand the sizes and shapes of clients

The average French woman today is just over 5 feet 3 inches tall and 137.6 pounds, compared to 5 feet 2 1/2 inches tall and 133.6 pounds in 1970.

The average height of an American woman, for example, is 5 feet 4 inches, and the average weight is 164.3 pounds, according to a study released in 2004 by the National Center for Health Statistics.

--> I am taller than the average American woman! I always find these things interesting. Whenever I live abroad, I have a hard time finding certain things that fit, like shoes. I am a size 11 in American women and 43 in European sizes. That is really hard to find in Mexico!!

February 2, 2006

My happy week! Jan 29-Feb 4

All of January was random (El Paso, San Antonio, Rotary conference, start a new semester of law school, find a summer job, make sure I get my private loan so I can pay my bills, buy a 2nd car, do my winter pro bono project, don't drop my responsibilities with my MK business, write a Rotary Scholar handbook,etc.)

Well maybe, 'busy' is a better word.

But this last week starting with Sunday has been great and I figure even if really no one reads this, I want to tell the world that I am really happy.

Good things
1. Had some epiphanies at church Sunday
2. Held a Baby shower for a friend Sunday
3. Got offered a generous speakers fee for a conference in April
4. Got offered the summer internship with Legal Aid in San Antonio
5. Signed my private loan check so I can have some money these next few months (was noticing I needed enough to pay the rent today so I realized I had to go sign the check)
6. My driver side car window works! (It wasn't working for a while)
7. I started an official club at school with some friends, Carolina Law and Policy Association and it will be what we think is missing, a policy focused group for us to network and learn from (It went from idea to club in less then one week!)
8. I was elected Carolina Public Interest Legal Organization's Vice President-Secretary.
9. My husband got a job offer with American Express
10. My husband got a 2nd interview with McKinsey in Atlanta this week.

Wow! This is so awesome. It is sort of like a story I heard on a Christian radio this week. This certain type of bamboo will not grow in height for 5 years but within 90 days will grow a ridiculous amount. Basically, you can work really hard for something and then all the sudden a lot of good things come from it.

So this is my official be happy, life is good week!
Ruby :)

February 1, 2006

Bush urges end to oil 'addiction'

Bush address
President George W Bush has warned the US must break its "addiction" to oil, in his State of the Union address.

To me, the state of the union is like the Super Bowl to most Americans. Next time, I am going to invite ppl over to my house to watch it so we can comment along during the speech. I had never noticed the division between the Reps and Dems before - there was a bright line between the two seen everytime one group would clap or stand. It was fun to see all the players in one room together. Look forward to being back in DC.